March 19, 2012

Dharun Ravi Guilty in Tyler Clementi Cyber-bullying Case

Posted in Cyber Bullying, Employees' Privacy, Internet Policies, Negligent Retention, Sexual Orientation, Social Media in the Workplace, Social Networking tagged , , , , , at 10:02 am by Tom Jacobson

A jury has found Dharun Ravi guilty of 15 criminal charges stemming from the cyber-bullying of his Rutgers University roommate, Tyler Clementi. Ravi was charged with the crimes after he used a webcam to spy on Clementi and another man having sex in their dorm room. Shortly thereafter, Clementi committed suicide.  For more details on the underlying incident, see my October, 2010 post, Tyler Clementi Suicide: Lessons for HR – and for Us All.

Ravi was not charged with any crimes directly related to Clementi’s death, but he was charged with and found guilty of a number of crimes, ranging from invasion of privacy to lying to investigators and witness and evidence tampering.  For more information on the verdict itself, see NY Times article, Jury Finds Spying in Rutgers Dorm Was a Hate Crime.

What you need to know:  Although the case does not directly relate to the workplace, it does have employment law implications.  For example, many states, including Minnesota, recognize invasion of privacy as a legal claim. Therefore, it is entirely conceivable that such claims could be brought against an employer that allows its computers to be used for cyber-bullying.  Many states, including Minnesota, also allow claims to be brought against employers which negligently retain or fail to supervise employees who harm others; if the harm stems from cyber-bullying via a workplace computer, it is not too difficult to envision a negligence claim against the employer who allowed it to happen.  To reduce this risk, employers should adopt workplace technology / social media policies which prohibit the use of the company’s computer resources to commit cyber-bullying.

For more information about this article, please contact me at taj@alexandriamnlaw.com.

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney.

Copyright 2012 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson Schultz, PA

March 13, 2012

NLRB’s posting requirement upheld – but weakened – by federal judge

Posted in National Labor Relations Act, Posting & Notice Requirements, Posting Requrements tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:05 am by Tom Jacobson

A federal judge has ruled that part of the new poster requirement imposed by the National Labor Relations Board is valid, but other parts of the rule go too far.  As noted in my previous articles (A post about posters – new workplace posting requirement imposed by NLRBNLRB’s posting requirement delayed, and NLRB’s posting requirement delayed again), the posting requirement goes into effect on April 30, 2012, and it will require nearly all private-sector employers to post a notice informing employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The notice can be downloaded from the NLRB’s website.

The National Association of Manufacturers has challenged the requirement in a lawsuit brought against the NLRB in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In a 46 page opinion issued on March 2, 2012 Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the posting requirement itself is lawful.

However, Judge Berman Jackson also concluded that other parts of the NLRB’s rule went too far. Specifically, she ordered that the NLRB exceeded its authority when it tried to make any failure to post the notice an unfair labor practice (ULP). She also concluded that the NLRB’s rule went too far by tolling the statute of limitations (that is, extending the time for taking legal action) in any future ULP action involving a job site where the notice was not posted.

What you need to know: Unless is it completely overturned in court, withdrawn by the NLRB, or stopped by congressional action, this posting requirement will go into effect on April 30, 2012. Even though Judge Berman Jackson has weakened the requirement by declaring that “the Board cannot make a blanket advance determination that a failure to post will always constitute an unfair labor practice,” the NLRB can still make the case that a failure to post is a ULP if the NLRB can “make a specific finding based on the facts and circumstances in the individual case before it that the failure to post interfered with the employee’s exercise of his or her rights.” To reduce that risk, post the notice.

For more information about this issue, please contact me at taj@alexandriamnlaw.com.

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney.

Copyright 2012 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson Schultz, PA

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